Global Chatter – October: Translation Myths & Multilingual Movies

Hello! Ciao! Hodi! Welcome to a fresh instalment of Global Chatter; the Comtec team’s dedicated monthly spot for sharing some of the most interesting, intriguing and useful stories and resources all about global languages. Each month we stockpile the posts which really get us thinking, laughing or learning, to share a little of our multilingual world with you!

This month, discover how teaching students about translated literature can really open the mind and fuel the imagination, debunk common myths about translation and translators, plus meet the movies marred by poor translations.

Translation Can Expand the Mind in the Classroom

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Did you study Dante’s Inferno at school? How about Homer’s Iliad? Flaubert’s Madam Bovary? Hands up if you studied them in the original Italian, Greek or French. Translation makes it possible for all of us to gain access to some of the greatest works of literary art ever created. And yet, it’s also a very different experience to reading “the original”.

As students, we often do not consider the effect of translation on a text, yet opening our minds to exactly how translation works – and the role of the translator – can in fact give us a much richer and more thoughtful experience of great literary works.

As teacher Dale Salwak explains in his fascinating blog on the subject, when reading Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich, the knowledge that Tolstoy’s word “Tosca” (which translator Constance Garnett translates as “Melancholy”) also denotes “yearning, boredom, spiritual anguish, sweet sadness”. Consider texts in translation, Salwak argues, and you stand to expand your mind and your appreciation of great literature. Read the whole blog at The Times Higher Education.

11 Translation Myths – Debunked

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Anybody with a mastery of two languages can be a translator…Translators are just as good at translating into all their languages…Translators don’t need input to carry out great translation work…

This is just a sample of the translation and translator myths Words Boutique author Elena Tereshchenkova lays to rest in her blog, written to cure a few of the misconceptions many of the uninitiated have about translation and translation work. A thoroughly interesting read if you’d like an inside view of the industry and a few pointers for ensuring the translations you commission are top notch.

Lost in Translation at the Movies

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We may now have access to almost instantaneous translation via our smartphones and smart tools like Skype, but the quality of translation in movies is still often very poor. This brilliant blog from Movie Pilot writer Mark Newton is a fantastic example of how far the film industry has to go until it becomes truly multilingual.

From very questionable translated movie titles (anyone fancy a Malay screening of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Behaved Very Nicely Towards Me?) to bungled dialogue, there are some real leaps and bounds still to be made in multilingual movie land.

What’s the most poorly translated movie you’ve ever seen? Which translation myths did you believe in? Have your say and share your stories below.

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